Students put Sunapee on top in Great Backyard Bird Count

Sunapee topped all the cities and towns in New Hampshire in the Great Backyard Bird Count by sending in the largest number of checklists and observing the greatest number of species for the entire state. The GBBC was February 17 – 20, 2012.

Sunapee submitted 86 checklists reporting a total of 37 species of birds. In comparison, eight checklists came in from Sunapee last year.

Merrimack, Concord, Nashua and Manchester sent in a combined total of 81 tallies in 2012, and Concord reported 29 species, the next highest count after Sunapee.

So, how did Sunapee go from eight to 86 and top the list of reports for New Hampshire?

“This year, my 7th and 8th grade classes participated in the GBBC as a way for the students to be ‘citizen scientists’ and participate in real science,” said Sunapee Science teacher Brent Baker.

“The kids really got into this project, and it was exciting to see that our little town had the highest participation in the state.”

Preparation started a couple of months before the count. Taking three or four minutes before the start of each class, students learned how to identify local bird species. They also learned how to record an exact count.

After students tallied up their observations during the GBBC, they electronically submitted their totals and watched the bird counts increase.

This attracted notice. A volunteer regional reviewer of the GBBC, Benjamin Griffith, described it as “a spectacular level of participation from Sunapee.”

Upon returning from school vacation and finding inquiries awaiting him, Baker emailed Griffith about his students’ study plan and involvement, which boosted Sunapee’s numbers this year.

“I hope that this unravels the mystery,” wrote Baker.

Griffith offered encouragement by inviting continued participation in future years.

In 2013, the GBBC is February 15 – 18.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon and Bird Studies Canada. With Internet access, you can view reports from across the United States and Canada and compare the counts from year to year.

One Response

  1. Hats off to Brent Baker for teaching our students real science out in the field! Students learn so much more by applying what they have learned in the classroom. Thank you!

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